Have an opinion on the North’s BSE status? DARD wants to hear from you

A public consultation has been launched in the North seeking the views of those in the agri-food industry and the public on possible changes to the North’s BSE status.

The consultation was launched recently by Northern Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neill.

“There is considerable support for the view that if we could secure BSE Negligible Risk status, it could help improve our global image as a disease-free area and perhaps even help open new markets for our exports.”

Currently, the North has Controlled Risk status, as does Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“Although I am keen to support any initiative which might have the potential to drive export growth, I also wish to ensure that all implications are considered including the views of other stakeholders, such as retailers and consumers.”

The public consultation will run from March 21 until June 13, 2016 and the consultation document and response form can be accessed from DARD’s website.

The Minister said that her department has involved the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Food Standards Agency in this initiative from an early stage in order to get the best possible advice about any possible implications.

“People can be assured that public safety will be our number one consideration at all times.”

Earlier this year, Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President, Ivor Ferguson, said that Northern Ireland has until May of this year to submit all of the required documentation and relevant statistics to apply for Negligible Risk status.

He said at the time that securing BSE Negligible Status would provide a major export boost for Northern Ireland’s beef sector.